A Simple Introduction to Spiritual Direction
"To listen a soul into disclosure and discovery is the greatest service one human being can do for another." -- Quaker SayingIt was a regular Wednesday morning when I went to meet with my Spiritual Director and I honestly didn’t feel there was much to talk about that morning. That’s how it is sometimes, nothing profound or amazing to share, just life. However, the gift of having someone willing to listen with me, and to me for an hour is an amazing gift to any human being. So I continued on my way.
When I arrived and my director opened our time together she just created a comfortable space for silence. Silence was what I needed that morning. The comfort of another soul present with me, yet with no expectation that I do or say anything.
Then in that quiet place, God began to gently prod me forward, showing me a heavy place in my heart. I began to explore the darkness out loud, as a conversation between myself and my Spiritual Director. It was about my relationship with one of my grown kids and how it had effected me.
As I talked there was sudden emotion there as God showed me my heart in it’s broken state. The words poured out of me as I identified the pain and even the legitimacy of the pain. I was surprised that it was there still, even after the years.
And as the hour went on, my director just created space for it to unfold. Asking occasional questions when she saw I was perhaps missing or denying something. Supporting me, identifying an emotion I was feeling but unable to name. Mostly just being a witness of my conversation with God.
I continued for the next forty five minutes, in some amazement, to review all the things God was showing me about my relationship with my child. For me in that holy place with God, there were new levels of healing.
It was later that morning while I was doing some homework for a class that I was taking that God showed his masterful way of loving me. I was handed a picture from an old calendar that I was to use as a theme to write a prayer about. A simple picture of a kitchen door slightly ajar and on the mat inside were two sets of rubber boots. One set for an adult and another set for a small child. I did a double take as I saw that the child's boots were identical to the set my child had when they were just three years old.
I was overwhelmed. I laughed quietly to myself. God really does love me the best.
Spiritual Direction is a process through which an individual becomes more aware of their relationship with God. Through conversation, prayer, and time spent with a Spiritual Director, an individual comes to a deeper awareness of the presence and activity of God in their own life.
As you meet together and share the ongoing story of your life, the Spiritual Director will help you to notice and respond to the activity of God in your life. The Director is a listening and supportive person who creates an environment where you can take time to honestly look at your relationship with God. He or she will walk alongside you as a soul friend and listen with you, for the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.
We understand that God acts in every area of our lives. God is there in our doubt as well as our certainty, in our weakness as well as our wholeness. That is why there is no need to focus solely on "religious" topics as if spirituality were a separate section of our lives. The primary relationship will be between the directee and God, the director acts as an extra set of ears and eyes for the individual seeking to grow with God.
Even though it may seem similar, Spiritual Direction is not therapy or counseling. The goal of Spiritual Direction is to see and hear God's activity in a directee's life, while the goal of counseling is to regain health. While Spiritual Directors may be trained in offering direction, not all of them have been trained in therapy or counseling.
Meetings typically occur once every 3-4 weeks although that may increase during crisis times. Some directors do charge for appointments which may be a flat hourly rate or it may be on a donation basis. It may also be free to you, however this should be communicated to you during the first, exploratory meeting.
Through this ministry one finds a spiritual companion who can listen to the stories of one's life and help discern the presence and work of God's Spirit. Sometimes we just need a "soul friend" to help us to recognize God's voice and respond to his presence.
Article for The Messenger
July 4, 2013